Classes a chance to ‘tend to yourself’

ArtSenta Outreach peer support officer Mary Mansell, left, of Cromwell and Wanaka artist Jude...
ArtSenta Outreach peer support officer Mary Mansell, left, of Cromwell and Wanaka artist Jude Faircloth are organising a free art and wellbeing outreach programme for Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra until August 2024. PHOTO: MARJORIE COOK
Sometimes life gets so big, it is easy to lose joy in little things.

That is the philosophy of Wanaka artist Jude Faircloth who, with Mary Mansell of Cromwell, is organising ArtSenta’s refreshed art outreach programme in Central Otago.

The weekly programme began at the end of January and will be held in Wanaka, Cromwell and Alexandra until August.

"It’s about getting down to the details, looking into nature, using the detail we see all the time, calming ourselves and getting focus ... And it is about chewing the fat and having a cup of tea," Ms Faircloth said.

ArtSenta first launched its creative wellbeing programme in Dunedin, North Otago and Central Otago in 2022.

Director Paul Smith, of Dunedin, said the outreach was being relaunched this year with a new timetable, new venues and new staff.

The weekly art sessions would support people experiencing mental distress, isolation or other wellbeing challenges, he said.

The programme is free and open to anyone 18 years and older. Participants do not need to be an artist and they can attend once or many times.

Mr Smith said the programme was popular.

Attendees had described it as a lifeline and an important part of keeping themselves well, he said.

Ms Faircloth, a former teacher, will lead the creative programme in Central Otago, while Ms Mansell — formerly the Headlight Trust’s Good Yarn programme co-ordinator — is the peer support worker for the area.

The programme includes scrapbooking, drawing, painting, printmaking, book making, carving clay, and mixed media.

Ms Mansell said the first session in Wanaka on January 30 drew about 12 people from a variety of age groups.

Men and women, visitors and residents were welcome, she said.

The programme would appeal to people who were in touch with services and wanted to build a support network.

It would also appeal to people keen to connect with other or share their knowledge and skills, she said.

"Art is important to wellbeing. We spend so much time tending to others’ needs and this is a good place to come and tend to yourself," Ms Mansell said.

“There is no other mobile programme quite like it in the country, so we really hope people who are experiencing mental distress and other wellbeing issues make the most of it,” Mr Smith said.

Funders include the Ministry of Culture & Heritage, Otago Community Trust and the Russell Henderson Trust.

To sign up, email or get in touch via social media.

Wanaka: Tuesday, 2pm, Wanaka Community Hub. Cromwell: Wednesday, 9.30am, Youth Trust. Alexandra: Wednesday, 1.30pm, Alexandra Community Hub.